If you're in a relationship, sometimes you probably feel like you're fighting a caged death-match with an invisible spider monkey. And the monkey is rabid. And you don't have any legs. And then a buffalo jumps in there and starts head-butting everything and your face catches on fire and there is a general atmosphere of chaos. -Hyperbole and a Half's relationship advice
This isn't something I know how to talk about. Indeed, I hesitated posting this because it's so highly personal, and while I like to dredge up embarrassingly funny stories, I still play by unspoken rules: DNDO. Do Not Discuss Others. (Well, unless they're a proselytizing stranger.)
I try to honor the privacy of my friends and family. This is *my* online journal and thus topics are limited to *my* neuroses.
And so I am woefully unprepared for how to talk about this.
My husband and I separated recently.
You don't spend 17 years with someone and then walk away from eachother easily. It is agonizing. Wrenching. Extremely painful. I drive home from work having imaginary conversations -- with my boss, his family, my niece and nephews. Everyone wondering what happened? Even in these imaginary conversations, I cry. And I cannot explain it. Sometimes death seems like an easier loss to discuss. But the death of a marriage? The death of dreams and ideals? How do you talk about those?
I spent some time thinking about the stigma of divorce. How I will have this label, be judged. Then I thought well, there probably isn't a person on this planet who has not felt the pain of an ended relationship. Most people have even experienced both sides: being the one left, and leaving. It's absolutely and utterly wretched either way.
It once took me 4 years to get over an old beau (before husband). The stages of healing happened almost imperceptibly. I drove a lot then, just to have a private place to sing aching songs of loss. One day I noticed 5 minutes had gone by where I didn't think of him. Then 10 minutes. Then 20. It was a very slow process. I learned the hard way then that it cannot be rushed. It's like a physical wound -- if someone stabbed you in the heart, however long it would take to mend is what it takes. You just cannot speed up the process no matter how hard you try.
But oh my god, living in that in-between stage is awful.
Relationships are complicated. Anyone in one knows it constantly takes huge leaps to bend and shape two lives together.
To love is exhilarating. To lose that love one of the most painful experiences one can endure. While suffering, it's hard to imagine anything could be worth that much pain.
And yet... I still believe in that old cliche: it's better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all.
If you see me in the hall, the supermarket, a BBQ, I will not know how to talk about it.
I probably will steer the conversation away as I won't want to cry in front of you.
I won't know how to tell you what went wrong even if I think I understand in my heart. And even then, I will doubt myself as I rewrite the story of a relationship gone south, constantly shifting the "why" in an earnest attempt to understand.
I asked someone dear to me recently, eyes welling up with tears, "What do I say?" She looked at me kindly and, with a hug, said, "Those who love you won't ask why."
She didn't ask why.
Despite the pain, I'm trying to look at our relationship with a sense of gratitude. But how do you thank someone for loving you?
A grateful murmur of thanks to those who understand that "why" doesn't come in neat 140-character tweets, or even lengthy blog posts. I am too choked up to write much more.
"There were some things I wanted to tell him. But I knew they would hurt him. So I buried them and let them hurt me." ~Jonathan Safran Foer
"Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together." ~Author Unknown